Season Content Notes: Revenge plot, violence, boundary violations, sexual harassment, ableist language
Lady Olivia swept into the garden with all the hauteur of an Empress. There was only one thing she had ever wanted of the duke, and now she had it. Or so she thought. “What would my lord, but that he may not have, wherein Olivia may seem serviceable?” As she spoke, she saw Cesario standing with the duke, and shock cost her that regal mien. With plaintive anger, she said to him, “Cesario, you do not keep promise with me.”
“Madam!” Cesario responded, confused and somewhat offended. After all, he had told her time and time again that would give her no promise nor anything but word of Orsino’s courtship.
Politely ignoring the countess’ discourtesy, Orsino began, “Gracious Olivia,–”
But the lady spoke over him, “What do you say, Cesario? Good my lord,–”
Cesario flushed with embarrassment and anger. He stepped back, away from Olivia, saying, “My lord would speak; my duty hushes me.”
Olivia stared at him in hurt surprise, then turned to Orsino, saying disdainfully, “If it be aught to the old tune, my lord, it is as fat and fulsome to mine ear as howling after music.”
“Still so cruel?” the duke demanded.
With a sniff, Olivia turned away, looking again to Cesario, “Still so constant, lord.”
“What, to perverseness?” Orsino almost looked like he would stamp his foot as a child, but he restrained himself. When spoke again, it was in a harsh whisper, “You uncivil lady, to whose ingrate and unauspicious altars my soul the faithfull’st offerings hath breathed out that e’er devotion tender’d!” He too turned away, asking the air, “What shall I do?”
What might have happened then, had the countess replied civilly? Given the duke’s protean nature, who can say? But Olivia, tired from long months for the duke’s relentless suit, could not resist turning the knife. With a wave of her hand, as if throwing something away, she sneered. “Even what it please my lord, that shall become him.”
The duke whirled around, grabbed Cesario’s tunic, and pulled him close. The surprise might have knocked Cesario off his feet had he not gone willingly, always swayed to his master’s bidding. The duke growled at Olivia, “Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, like to the Egyptian thief at point of death, kill what I love?” Had any been looking, they might have seen the joy which shined in Cesario’s eyes. The way Valentine to the back quietly covered his face and sighed. But neither Orsino nor Olivia saw. “Tis a savage jealousy that sometimes savours nobly. But hear me this: Since you to non-regardance cast my faith, and that I partly know the instrument that screws me from my true place in your favour, live you the marble-breasted tyrant still.”
The duke turned then to look at Cesario, who still relaxed in Orsino’s grasp, unconcerned by his master’s anger. Orsino’s voice softened and seemed to become almost a caress. “But this your minion, whom I know you love, and whom,” if possible, the duke’s voice dipped softer and he and Cesario seemed to sway together, until barely a breath was between them, “by heaven I swear, I tender dearly, him–” facing Olivia again, yelling, “– will I tear out of that cruel eye, where he sits crowned in his master’s spite.”
He released Cesario’s tunic to grab his hand. “Come, boy, with me; my thoughts are ripe in mischief. I’ll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, to spite a raven’s heart within a dove.”
“And I,” Cesario replied, grasping Orsino’s hand strongly in return, “most jocund, apt and willingly, to do you rest, a thousand deaths would die.” (In the rear, something almost like hope lit Valentinian’s eyes.)
Olivia, who had been unmoved by the duke’s posturing, shrieked as Cesario spoke and turned to leave with Orsino. “Where goes Cesario?”
Cesario looked at Olivia over his shoulder, braced himself a moment, and finally said, “After him I love.” Releasing his self-imposed restrictions, he put all his heart into his words, “More than I love these eyes, more than my life, more, by all mores, than e’er I shall love wife.” The duke, hearing this, stopped and stared at Cesario, shock, and question in his eyes. Looking away from Olivia, Cesario caught the duke’s eyes and swallowed. Then continued, “If I do feign, you witnesses above punish my life for tainting of my love!”
With another shriek, Olivia threw herself at Cesario, pulling him away from the duke, shaking him, “Ay me, detested! how am I beguiled!”
Cesario, who despite the broken moment was concerned for Olivia and her strange behavior took her hands and squeezed them. “Who does beguile you? who does do you wrong?”
“Hast thou forgot thyself?” Olivia demanded, “is it so long?” She turned to her people saying, “Call forth the holy father.”
Orsino, eyes only on Cesario, said, “Come, away!”
Divided, Cesario turned to go, and Olivia gripped him tighter. “Whither, my lord?” and as he stilled pulled away cried out, “Cesario, husband, stay.”
With a groan of pain, like a great oak falling, Orsino let his hands fall, eyes gone dark. “Husband!”
(Valentine sighed and covered his face again. But had one been standing next to him, they might have thought for a moment that he spoke. “Not again. Blessed God, not again.”)
“Ay, husband: can he that deny?”
“Her husband, sirrah!” the duke demanded of Cesario, but old pain was in his eyes and it was clear he believed it, was pained by it.
Cesario shook Olivia off and grabbed for Orsino’s hand. “No, my lord,” he said, aghast at the very idea, “not I!”
Olivia, blind to the emotions passing between the two men, threw her arms around Cesario. “Alas, it is the baseness of thy fear that makes thee strangle thy propriety. Fear not, Cesario; take thy fortunes up. Be that thou know’st thou art, and then thou art as great as that thou fear’st.”
The priest came hurrying out of the manor and froze at the sight of the strange tablaeu. Seeing him, Olivia let go of Cesario to hurry over. “O, welcome, father!” she cried, “Father, I charge thee, by thy reverence, here to unfold, though lately we intended to keep in darkness, what thou dost know hath newly pass’d between this youth and me.”
The priest was an older man and not inclined to bellow across the courtyard. So he continued walking and did not speak until he stood near to the duke and Cesario.
“Twas a contract of eternal bond of love,” the priest said.
The duke closed his eyes and shoved Cesario away.
“Confirm’d by mutual joinder of your hands,”
Stumbling, Cesario fell to the ground.
“Attested by the holy close of lips,”
The young man did not try to stand but only stared in horror.
“Strengthen’d by interchangement of your rings;”
It could not be, he thought. It was impossible. Was the whole world mad?
“And all the ceremony of this compact seal’d in my function, by my testimony. “Since when, my watch hath told me, toward my grave I have travell’d but two hours.”
Cesario could say nothing, do nothing. No matter how impossible it was, he knew no one would believe him with the word of a priest against him.
Orsino sneered down at him but had any looked closely they might have seen that he blinked several times, as if to clear his eyes. “O thou dissembling cub! what wilt thou be when time hath sow’d a grizzle on thy case? Or will not else thy craft so quickly grow, that thine own trip shall be thine overthrow?” He shook his head and turned away. “Farewell, and take her. But direct thy feet where thou and I henceforth may never meet.”
“My lord,” Cesario surged to his feet, “I do protest–”
Before he could take a single step, Olivia grabbed hold of him, “O, do not swear! Hold little faith, though thou hast too much fear.”
Before Cesario could say anything — could think of anything — Sir Andrew came stumbling in, face covered in blood. “For the love of God, a surgeon! Send one presently to Sir Toby.”